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The new Williams Inn

The new Williams Inn had opened a little over 2 weeks ago. According to the above article:

The new Williams Inn is set to open with fewer rooms — the old inn had 125 rooms, the new one has 64 rooms — and more amenities, including 55-inch flat-screen televisions and Euro top beds in rooms that sport brilliant views of Spring Street and the surrounding hills. Each room also sports an assortment of energy-saving technology.

After more than a year of work, the $32 million steel and concrete structure now stands three stories tall, with about 58,000 square feet of interior space.

The structure is designed in three sections: the main house, bunk house and barn. The main house section includes the main check-in and greeting area on the ground floor with guest rooms above. The bunk house includes event space on the first floor and rooms above. The barn includes the bar/restaurant on the ground floor and guest rooms on floors two and three. The three sections can be distinguished with three different architectural styles and different siding, with red barnwood-style siding for the restaurant. There will be 64 rooms, including four suites on the top floor.

Connection with the outdoors figures prominently in the hotel’s aesthetic:

Scenic views are available from any window, and expansive windows are featured in the restaurant and event space. Panoramic views of the Spring Street corridor and much of the Williams College campus grace most of the guest rooms, which are all on the second and third floors.

Hurley said there was a fine focus on tying the interior into the exterior landscape with expansive windows and interior design and artwork.

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17 Comments To "The new Williams Inn"

#1 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On September 4, 2019 @ 6:17 am

1) Note that none (?) of the workers at the Inn are Williams emoployees. You can be sure that that isn’t by accident! Will Williams next move to outsource employment of dining hall staff?

2) A few years ago, I was walking down Spring Street with a Williams alumni staffer. I asked him about the new inn. His claim was that “Spring Street is dying” and that that was why we needed a new Inn.

What garbage! Spring Street has never been more vibrant. And, to the extent there has been turnover, it is turnover caused by Williams itself raising rents.

The real reason why we have an Inn on Spring Street is that it makes things much more convenient for rich Ephs, especially rich Eph trustees.

The old Inn was too shabby for rich Ephs.

The Orchards is OK, but it is too far away. Imagine you are a trustee who comes to town with your spouse. You only have one car. You will be in meetings all day. He wants a car to move around. How do you, rich trustee, get to campus in the morning? The walk is (just barely) too long to be comfortable, especially in winter. You can’t take the car, which would leave your husband trapped. Very annoying!

The Inn solves that problem.

#2 Comment By dcat On September 4, 2019 @ 6:33 pm

This is another example of Williams fueling scarcity that will price even comfortably situated professionals out of the market on all but the most off-season, mid-week dates. Sure, the old Inn was growing a bit shabby, but now there are half the rooms with presumably comparable or greater demand. As it is it was nearly impossible to get a reasonably priced room on Homecoming or especially reunion weekend.

#3 Comment By PTC On September 4, 2019 @ 7:02 pm

Built in a wetland that only the college could get waivers for, on the cite of the American Legion, the Inn typifies what the college has become …

No place for townies/ the middle or lower classes. It’s a disaster.

Spring Street his for the affluent only. The college owns almost every building from top to bottom. A landlord for anyone wishing to sell sandwiches or clothing must abide.

Tell me it is not a company town, and I’ll laugh. You have to laugh.

dcat- No affordable housing to be found either. No need to worry about where to stay for you, you can stay at my place … No problemo.

#4 Comment By dcat On September 5, 2019 @ 1:01 pm

PTC —
Thanks!
Yep. I was thinking about housing as well. I wrote a short story a while back set between Dartmouth and a nearby small town but I was also thinking of Williamstown — one of the minor premises is that in the 80s or even the 90s a junior faculty member getting a job at the college could afford to stretch their financial limits and buy an expensive but still buy-able house near campus. Now? No chance. None. Even a Williams professor hired in a department that pays well would have zero chance of affording a home within realistic walking distance of Williams, and at least part of that is tied to direct actions on the part of Williams. (That said, neither Williams/Williamstown nor Dartmouth/Hanover comes even close to what Stanford/Palo Alto are like.)

dcat

#5 Comment By PTC On September 6, 2019 @ 8:05 am

dcat-

Williamstown is very different from places like Palo Alto because it really is a single engine economy. In terms of business property, the vast majority of prime business real estate (rentals) is owned by the school. This allows the school to pick and choose how the town is set up in the business district- spring street. If the college wants you to leave- for example, the newsroom- they can simply not renew your lease. This is often done under the clear premise that the college wants to develop the sale of such things elsewhere- such as stationary products at other properties like as the new 11 million dollar bookstore.

In a market economy, the old Williams Inn would be sold at a fair market price, and that hotel would probably still survive as an option as a reduced cost place to stay, it could also be renovated and act as a competitor to the new Inn, thereby reducing prices at the new Inn, if this were a market economy town.

As it is, the college does not need to show profit or break even on any of this, not in terms of market forces (David notes this is all about donations), so the old hotel property can used for whatever design the college desires. Even destroyed and turned into tax free for educational use, or traded to the town for another plot the town owns that Williams wants.

No one else could have gotten the zoning variance to build the new inn where Williams did- in a wetland. The college is also going to built a long walkway for the new inn that is clearly in a marsh, and can do so only because of its unique market and political position in town. Anyone else who tried to dig one shovel full of dirt in that area would be fined, while Williams can build concrete forms there, for bracing a walkway that is to be built in the marsh from the location of the Inn at the bottom of Spring to South Street.

So, it is not like Hilton or the Four Seasons could develop a hotel in town as Williams has.

You would be pressed to find a truer version of a command economy. A complete monopoly which does not need to rely on market forces.

#6 Comment By BH On September 6, 2019 @ 8:13 pm

dcat-

Affordable housing is indeed an issue in Williamstown, but what you say in number 4 above is simply wrong. I can think of a dozen or more counterexamples in the last five years and these are not faculty with inherited wealth. I don’t know where you’ve gotten this impression. Now it’s true that many if not most junior faculty choose not to buy, but that’s more because the housing market is very slow and if they don’t get tenure they could be stuck holding onto the house for a year or more.

As for hotel space, don’t forget that a big new Fairfield by Marriott is about to open. The business the new inn will really kill is the Orchards.

#7 Comment By PTC On September 7, 2019 @ 5:22 am

BH- I believe that dcat is referring to places to stay/ buy that are close enough to walk to campus.

You can probably count the affordable houses for sale (for middle income/ faculty income) close to campus on one hand. The orchards/ Fairfield is a long walk. I suppose you can cut through the cemetery/ linear park, but it is still a mile to campus.

That leaves the Northside Motel…

#8 Comment By PTC On September 7, 2019 @ 5:24 am

Should read- affordable houses that could be sold. There are probably none for sale right now that are walking distance.

Three or four places on Lee Terrace, and… ? Maybe some stuff toward the bottom of Cole Avenue, which is a hike.

#9 Comment By BH On September 7, 2019 @ 12:51 pm

PTC- I was referring to real estate within walking distance as well. For me that would mean within a mile (walking, not as crow flies) of the central campus. This would include all of Cole and the neighborhoods off it to the east, most of North Hoosac and the neighborhoods to the south, etc. In some weather that walk might not be pleasant, but welcome to New England. Over the course of a given year, there are probably 10–15 places between $175K–$350K for sale in that area (not as many right now, more like 5–7). That’s a price that’s certainly in the realm of dcat’s “to stretch their financial limits and buy an expensive but still buy-able house near campus,” esp. with the generous mortgage deal the college provides. There would be even more places if a certain athletic coach wasn’t buying up many of them to try to corner the market on rental housing in the town…

#10 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On September 7, 2019 @ 2:22 pm

> There would be even more places if a certain athletic coach wasn’t buying up many of them to try to corner the market on rental housing in the town…

Who? This is surely a matter of public record! I did not realize the typical athletic coach was that wealthy . . .

#11 Comment By BH On September 7, 2019 @ 6:16 pm

Indeed it is public, in the sense that there is publicly available info about who owns all the properties in town. I believe there are 14 properties owned by ENL, LLC. I’ll let you try to figure out who this is.

#12 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On September 7, 2019 @ 10:38 pm

#13 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On September 7, 2019 @ 10:39 pm

Ahhh . . . Zafrir Levy, head squash coach

#14 Comment By PTC On September 8, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

BH- Doesn’t the college mortgage deal give the school the right of first refusal attached to a cap% of sale cost/ appraised value? That’s not a good deal in my opinion.

I look at walking distance as the upper loop of Cole, perhaps down to the tracks. Maybe properties right near the bridge on N Hoosic- maybe.

Anything East of the small bridge toward the High School 30 MPH speed trap, and South of the bridge crossing tracks on 7N prior to N Hoosic.

#15 Comment By BH On September 8, 2019 @ 9:21 pm

PTC- Your description of the current faculty mortgage deal is incorrect. I have some vague recollection that the right of first refusal was part of the deal in the past, but it no longer is in the current description. I have never heard of any cap and there is no language of this sort in the current description. The situation with the Pine Cobble development is more complex, but is also not as you describe.

#16 Comment By PTC On September 9, 2019 @ 2:09 am

BH- Interesting. Yes, first refusal was a part of the deal in the past.

So, Williams just acts as an extremely low interest/ zero money down lender without any strings now? Kind of like a VA loan, but with even lower interest and no points for insurance (PMI). No paid protection for if the borrower goes bad on the note? No other consideration?

That’s a great deal! Worth tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand dollars for every employee who can use it. Does it apply to faculty and staff?

How does the college deal with default/ foreclosure on their notes? Same as any normal lender, or does it finance against it with another lender for even greater cost, but less exposure?

Such a deal is a great benefit. No doubt about it.

#17 Comment By PTC On September 9, 2019 @ 2:16 am

Bh- Does the lend directly or act as a surety? How does it achieve below market interest rates without spending a lot of money?